Our writer spent many years quenching her thirst for adventure as a travel blogger, and her adopted home town of Munich was somewhat relegated to a place of relaxation. This column gives her the chance to catch up on some of the things she missed. In this first issue, she stays in a hotel, discovers a newly emerging district and munches her way through the delicious regional cuisine.
My life as a travel blogger took me on a journey of discovery around Europe and the rest of the world for many years. My travels were exhilarating. Whenever I returned to Munich, I rarely felt the urge to discover something new, as I’d only just satisfied this hunger in places like Prague, San Francisco and Helsinki. And this is how Munich became the perfect city for me to come home to. I always knew there was much more to Munich than that; after all, I’ve now been living here for twelve years – and not just out of sheer convenience.
When my travel blogger days were over, I was finally inspired to see what my adopted home was really made of. I wanted to put on my tourist spectacles and find out why this city was so popular around the world: Why did I always meet people on my travels who would choose Munich ahead of all the other glamorous, exciting and crazy metropolises in Europe?
My plan to go on holiday in my home town follows the exact same principle as a quick getaway to any other European city. I want to get started in a vibrant place with lots of young people, and a newly emerging district instantly came to mind.
"The Werksviertel is characterised by its aura of change. The former industrial area is set to become a new home for artist workshops, apartments, sport and leisure facilities, hotels and other types of accommodation, reflecting the district’s fundamental focus on socialising."
Saturday: A new world behind the Ostbahnhof
The former premises of the potato processing company, Pfanni, are now home to the Werksviertel, a little pop-up town designed for temporary use by artists and other creative minds. The sustainability concept is reflected by the old ship containers in the “Container Collective”.
I notice a sea of young people sitting in the sun, socialising and huddling over their MacBooks. I’m given a first-hand view of their creativity – and that’s just my first impression.
During my two-hour tour of the area, I learn how important the symbiosis of the old and new is here: The WERK3 building is where potatoes used to be processed into dumplings, and the industrial charm of times gone by is now interwoven with new and modern architecture. 22,000 square metres of space is being developed into offices, art installations, retail facilities and entertainment venues. However, the real special feature of the building is the roof, where a little herd of sheep can be found grazing in the middle of a flowering meadow.
The Werksviertel is characterised by its aura of change. The former industrial area is set to become a new home for artist workshops, apartments, sport and leisure facilities, hotels and other types of accommodation, reflecting the district’s fundamental focus on socialising.
I’m completely amazed as I head towards the underground station at sunset. A whole new world is emerging behind the Ostbahnhof, expanding Munich in a diverse and innovative way – and in a direction that I’ll head towards more often in the future.
Vinyl and design right by the Gasteig
One essential aspect of my experiment is, of course, to stay in a hotel instead of snoozing in my own bed. Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t get the whole holiday feeling. And so I swap my home for a snazzy hotel room around five kilometres from my apartment.
The new JAMS Music & Design Hotel was built along the narrow Stubenvollstrasse – right behind the Gasteig (cultural centre) – in January 2019. As the name suggests, this is where the love of sound and aesthetics meet. Its sophisticated foyer features a large (and good!) selection of vinyls for the record players found in every room. I stash three albums under my arm, unlock the door to my room and fall onto the huge bed. I could sleep here more than one night, I think to myself. And just in case that doesn’t work out, I take a quick look at the mattress label.
I used to have a ticking clock at the back of my mind during my professional city trips. I did a lot of running around to get a feel for each part of a city. But my aim on this special getaway is to deliberately shift down a gear, and so I glide through the warm day on the wings of Ella Fitzgerald’s “Summertime” before going out for the last time that evening to check out something recommended by a friend.
How a public toilet became a bar
The Crönlein. A former stone toilet building along the Nockherberg terrace. It’s been completely gutted, and its small interior is taken up by a beautiful bar made of wood and concrete. The owner, Florian, is standing behind the bar and pouring me an icy cold white wine as recommended. I walk a few steps up to the terrace and take a seat beneath the shady trees as the last rays of sun shimmer through the foliage.
As I sit here and listen to the conversations around me in a completely new place, I feel like my holiday has well and truly begun. And I’m not only in my home town; I’m on my very own holiday.
Sunday: Where am I?
As I open my eyes the next morning, I need a moment to realise where I am. I’m not at home; I’m in a hotel. And yet I’m not in a new place, but rather here in my city.
Morning is my favourite time of the day, especially when I’m travelling. When the day starts with a nice cup of coffee, freshly squeezed orange juice and a tasty omelette, and when I can check the weather forecast and my travel plans, pin attractions on the map and make time for aimless wandering … but before I can get to all that, I’m served a portion of French toast with bananas, nuts and salted caramel – it seems the most fitting thing to order in the stylish atmosphere of the hotel.
A portion of Munich knowledge to go
I’m looking for something really special to top off my day. For me, the most exciting aspect of major cities are their contrasts and the way in which the city grows around them. What was, what is and what will remain – all this shows how a city is ticking. That’s why I choose to take a second city tour that I think will nicely complement yesterday’s adventures.
“There are only five drivers left in Munich who can operate this old tram”, says tour guide Rudi Muschler. “And Willi is one of them”. The historic MünchenTram rattles past the Wiener Platz (square), the Gasteig and the Deutsches Museum, which was built in 1926. I can’t take my eyes off the surroundings – not because everything is new to me, but because I’m now seeing it all with a fresh pair of eyes. And thanks to Rudi Muschler’s additional information, it feels like I’m getting to know Munich all over again.
"The coffee has a fruity taste and fills my mouth with a velvety feeling. It’s a delicious mini fireworks display and certainly one of my absolute favourites on the Munich coffee scene."
I discover that Thierschstrasse, where I often pass through on my bicycle, is named after the architect Friedrich von Thiersch, who designed the Justizpalast (Palace of Justice) by Karlsplatz and other buildings. I also learn that a cappella concerts are held at St. Lukas Church, and I make a mental note for the next time my parents are in town. Rudi also tells me the famous “O’zapft is” saying was coined by former mayor Thomas Wimmer, who needed as many as 19 blows to tap the first beer keg and declare the official opening of the Oktoberfest in 1950, after which he exclaimed the famous words with great relief.
At the end of my one-hour tour on the historic tram, I actually feel like I know my city a little better.
Coffee, coffee, coffee
Going back to my routine on typical city breaks, my next task is usually to find nice cafés. I prefer cafés that are affiliated with a local roasting house, and my thoughts immediately turn to the roasting house VogelMaier, which I’ve been meaning to visit for months.
As I take a sip of my flat white (double espresso with milk) just ten minutes later, I know I’ve made the right choice. The coffee has a fruity taste and fills my mouth with a velvety feeling. It’s a delicious mini fireworks display and certainly one of my absolute favourites on the Munich coffee scene.
Before I leave, I find out about the varieties on sale and take the Brasilien Dolce Cerrado as a souvenir. Culinary memories are my favourite thing to take home from a holiday.
Tastiness comes in three
Speaking of culinary delights, the perfect way to round off a nice holiday is with a really great restaurant.
The resihuber (since February 2020 "La Trattoria" and thus converted to an Italian restaurant, ed. note) is a restaurant and café belonging to the “Vollcorner” chain of organic markets in Munich. I’m not only inspired by the idea of exclusively organic and mostly regional cuisine; I’m also intrigued by the restaurant’s location by Resi-Huber-Platz in Sendling, a district that I rarely visit.
I had high expectations of the restaurant. I take a seat by one of the large arched windows and order asparagus with strawberries and burrata cheese as a starter, fresh gnocchi for my main course, and chocolate lava cake with raspberry espuma and vanilla ice cream for my dessert. It was fantastic. The wine too.
It’s somewhere I’ll definitely visit again to spend a special evening or simply to treat myself. Perhaps on my next trip to Munich.
Anika Landsteiner has been living in Munich for twelve years. She spent many years quenching her thirst for adventure as a travel blogger, and her adopted home town of Munich was somewhat relegated to a place of relaxation. This column gives her the chance to catch up on some of the things she missed – and regularly takes her on holiday in her home town.